MONZA, Italy (AP) — Runaway Formula One leader Max Verstappen secured a record 10th straight win with victory at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, with a Red Bull one-two on Ferrari's home track.
“That's a nice stat,” Verstappen said on team radio immediately after the win.
Another flawless performance from the two-time defending champion saw Verstappen beat teammate Sergio Pérez by 6.064 seconds. Carlos Sainz Jr. was third, 11.193 behind Verstappen and less than two tenths of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc as the two Ferrari drivers battled for the final spot on Monza's iconic podium.
“I never would have believed that was possible but we had to work for it today and that made it definitely a lot more fun,” Verstappen said.
Verstappen had started second, behind Sainz, but eventually got past him at the start of lap 15 and from then on — just like the rest of the season — no one could match the Red Bull pace.
The record became all but a foregone conclusion as Verstappen began to pull away, swiftly building an advantage of more than five seconds five laps later.
“Very tough, very tough. It can’t get any tougher than it was today,” Sainz said. “To keep up with the Red Bulls, I paid the price with the rear tires but I did everything I could to defend."
The victory also saw Verstappen increase his huge championship lead to 145 points in a crushingly dominant season for the 25-year-old Dutchman.
Verstappen has won 12 of the 14 races for unbeaten Red Bull and matched Sebastian Vettel’s F1 record of nine straight victories last weekend at the Dutch GP. He is closing in on his own F1 record of 15 wins set last year and onto 47 overall.
Pérez has the other two victories this season and Red Bull has also won 24 of the past 25 races, including last year.
There are eight more races remaining for Red Bull to try to complete the first perfect year by a F1 team.
“I’m very proud also of the whole team effort, the whole year already,” Verstappen said. "What we are doing at the moment, winning every race this year, it's something that we definitely are enjoying because I don’t think these kind of seasons come around very often.
“That’s the same of course with winning 10 in a row.”
It was a second straight victory for Verstappen at Monza. Before last year he had never finished the Italian GP higher than fifth.
His record bid got off to a slightly delayed start, however, as Yuki Tsunoda went off on the formation lap with a suspected power unit failure. There had to be an aborted start and, with the drivers effectively doing three formation laps, the race was shortened by two laps.
Ferrari was hopeful of its first win at the Temple of Speed since 2019 and Sainz, who turned 29 on Friday, got off to a great start as he held off Verstappen into the first corner — much to the delight of the thousands of passionate red-clad tifosi.
Sainz managed to defend several attempts by Verstappen to get past in a tense fight between the two. That didn’t last long, however, as Sainz locked his brakes going into the first chicane on lap 15 and that allowed Verstappen to get past him on the exit and pull away.
Sainz was left to fend off Perez for second place but lost that battle too with four laps remaining and was then forced to fight hard again to keep Leclerc behind for the final podium place.
“Very happy because a P3 in Monza in front of the tifosi is as good as it can get, at least for this weekend because clearly Red Bull were in the end quite a bit quicker than us today as we expected,” Sainz said. “It was a day to try, and I tried everything I could to keep them behind.”
George Russell was fifth, ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, despite both drivers receiving five-second penalties in separate incidents.
Alex Albon matched his best finish of the season with seventh. Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing
Daniella Matar, The Associated Press